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NHS (U.K.) 

BMI tests 'miss' over a quarter of obese children

"Quarter of obese children missed by BMI tests," the Mail Online reports. The headline was prompted by a review that combined the results of 37 studies in more than 50,000 children and found body mass index (BMI) is an imperfect way of detecting excess body fat. The study estimated more than a quarter of children (27%) with excess body fat might not be classified as obese when using BMI me

Viagra could double up as heart failure drug

"Sex pill Viagra could help men suffering from heart disease," reports the Mirror. This headline follows a new review into the potential heart benefits of the active ingredient in erectile dysfunction drugs such as sildenafil (Viagra), called phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors (PDE5is).PDE5is work by helping blood vessels dilate, which in the case of erectile dysfunction increases blood flow

Vegetative patients show awareness during scans

"Vegetative patients may be more conscious of the world than we think," The Independent reports. Electrodes have detected what has been described as "well-preserved" networks of brain activity in patients in a vegetative state. A vegetative state is when a person is awake and may have some basic motor reflexes, but no signs of awareness. It is one of a group of conditions known as disorders o

Exercise data signs could cut sugary drink intake

“Signs warning shoppers how much exercise they need to do to burn off calories in sugary drinks can encourage healthier choices,” BBC News reports. Signs in shops in an area of Baltimore seemed to have led to a change in shopping habits amongst Afro-American teenagers. Researchers first studied beverage purchases by black teens at six corner stores in Baltimore. They then tested the effect

Crash diets 'work best' claim misguided

“Crash diets DO work, claim experts,” the Mail Online reports. It reports on an Australian study involving 200 obese adults who were randomly assigned to either a 12-week rapid weight loss programme on a very low-calorie diet or a 36-week gradual weight loss programme. It found that 81% of people in the rapid weight loss group achieved the target weight loss (more than 12.5% of their bodyw

New way to distinguish between ovarian tumours

"A new test can help doctors identify ovarian cancer more accurately and cut down on instances of unnecessary surgery," BBC News reports. The BBC accurately reflects the findings of researchers who developed new tests for ovarian cancer. These tests use clinical and ultrasound findings to assess whether tumours are benign or malignant and, if they were malignant, the likely stage of the cance

Stem cells used to improve low vision

"Embryonic stem cells transplanted into eyes of blind restore sight," The Daily Telegraph reports, covering a study where human stem cells were transplanted into the eyes of people with visual impairment. This led to a significant improvement in their vision. This new research involved nine women with age-related macular degeneration and nine people with a rare condition called Stargardt's ma

Ebola could reach UK, but outbreak risk is low

“Global threat of Ebola: From the US to China, scientists plot spread of deadly disease across the world from its West African hotbed,” reports the Mail Online. This is a terrifyingly apocalyptic-sounding headline, yet the real story about Ebola is that, while still frightening and deadly, it is still a very low risk to people in the UK. Screening arrangements for visitors to the UK arriving fro

Warnings issued over energy drinks

“Energy drinks could cause public health problems, says WHO study,” The Guardian reports. A new review discusses the potential harms of these drinks, especially when they are mixed with alcohol.Energy drinks, such as Red Bull and Monster, contain high levels of caffeine, which is a stimulant. They have become increasingly popular over the last 20 years, especially with young people, with many

Broccoli could 'hold the key' for treating autism

"Broccoli chemical may improve autism symptoms," The Daily Telegraph reports. A small study suggests sulforaphane, a chemical that gives broccoli its distinctive taste, may help improve some of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).The study found the symptoms of ASD improved in two-thirds of adolescent and young men who took a sulforaphane supplement. In the randomised controlled

Concerns raised about late diagnosis of lung cancer

"Doctors in Britain are 'missing opportunities' to spot lung cancer at an early stage," BBC News reports. A study found around a third of people with the condition die within 90 days of their initial diagnosis.The study looked at the medical records of more than 20,000 adults who had been diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK between 2000 and 2013. They found people were more likely to die

Can we count on counting calories?

It's a concept at the cornerstone of most diets: counting the calories of your food intake so you don't go over the limit. But just how accurate are calorie labels? And are some calories more "equal" than others?There is a seemingly endless stream of media articles focusing on the latest diet wonder, whether it involves intermittent fasting or feasting on fats. Although they protest oth

'Poo in a pill' may help treat C. difficile infection

“Capsules containing frozen faecal material may help clear up C. difficile infections,” BBC News reports. While the prospect may sound stomach-churning, swallowing somebody else’s "poo" may help treat symptoms such as chronic diarrhoea, which can be life-threatening. The headline is based on new research on 20 people with recurrent diarrhoea caused by C. difficile that was not cured with s

Fruit juice link to high blood pressure not proven

"Does drinking fruit juice give you high blood pressure?," the Mail Online asks, as an Australian study found people who reported a daily intake of fruit juice tended to have slightly higher blood pressure. This finding, the researchers argue, is likely down to the high sugar content of fruit juices. But this and other headlines exaggerated the results of a small, potentially unreliable and u

Is a cure for type 1 diabetes 'within reach'?

"Type 1 diabetes cure within reach after breakthrough," The Independent reports after researchers have managed to "coax" human stem cells into becoming insulin-producing cells. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body's own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that plays a vital role in regulating blood glucose levels. Th

Antibiotic resistance continues to rise

"Antibiotic resistance continues to rise," BBC News reports as, despite warnings, the number of antibiotic prescriptions in the UK continues to soar, as do new cases of resistant bacteria. Other news reports take different slants on the story, with The Daily Telegraph blaming the rise on hospitals and out of hours GPs. The news follows the publication of a new report by Public Health Engla

Could grapefruit juice protect against diabetes?

“Grapefruit juice 'could be the key to weight loss’,'' is the misleading headline in The Daily Telegraph. It reports on a study in which mice fed a combination of a high-fat diet and grapefruit juice still put on weight – albeit at a lower rate than mice fed a sugary drink. Their blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity were also better regulated than mice that did not drink grapefruit ju

'Healthy foods expensive' claim is unrealistic

“Healthy food now costs three times as much as junk, study shows,” The Independent reports. It also reports a sharper rise in the cost of fruit and veg over the past decade compared to other types of foods.This news story is based on research which looked at changes in the price of 94 food items in the UK in the decade from 2002 to 2012. It found that in this period foods classified as health

Broccoli could 'hold the key' for treating autism

"Broccoli chemical may improve autism symptoms," The Daily Telegraph reports. A small study suggests sulforaphane, a chemical that gives broccoli its distinctive taste, may help improve some of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).The study found the symptoms of ASD improved in two-thirds of adolescent and young men who took a sulforaphane supplement. In the randomised controlled

Questions about life after death remain unanswered

“Life after death is a real phenomenon,” Metro reports – but the headline is pure hype. Researchers were actually looking at “near-death experiences” – a very different thing. Indeed, the research involved people who did not die (even “technically”).Near-death experiences are reported by people claiming to have had experiences when they were close to death, such as when their heart stops duri

Vaginal orgasm 'doesn't exist', researchers argue

"There is no such thing as a vaginal orgasm," says the Mail Online, in a story that suggests some women have been diagnosed with sexual disorders based on the "myth" that they can orgasm through vaginal intercourse alone. The news comes from a review of existing (not new) evidence, and its authors make some very bold assertions. The researchers' main conclusion – that the vaginal orgasm do

Cannabis labelled 'harmful and as addictive as heroin'

"Cannabis: the terrible truth," is today's Daily Mail front page splash story. The paper cites the risks posed by cannabis – including a doubling of the risk of schizophrenia – based on research the paper says has "demolished the argument that the drug is safe".The "terrible truth" is we still don't know enough about the safety and harms of cannabis because it's legally and ethically a diffic

Eating with a fat friend 'makes you eat more'

“Sitting next to overweight people makes you more likely to gorge on unhealthy food,” the Daily Express reports. The paper reports on a small-scale research experiment showing that the presence of an overweight woman (an actress in a fat suit) near a buffet made student volunteers choose and eat a larger amount of unhealthy food (spaghetti) than when she was a healthy weight (without the fat

Green tea compound may improve cancer drugs

"Green tea could helps [sic] scientists develop new cancer fighting drugs," the Mail Online reports. But before you rush out to the shops, in no way does this study suggest green tea can fight cancer. Instead, research has found a compound in green tea – the catchily named Epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate (EGCG) – may help improve the effectiveness of anti-cancer drugs such as Herceptin, used in

Study finds clue to why colds trigger asthma

The Mail Online reports how "a simple cold can set off a deadly asthma attack: Scientists discover chemical can send the immune system into overdrive". It is well known that in people with asthma, respiratory infections such as colds or flu can trigger asthma symptoms, and, in more serious cases, an asthma attack. This study involved experiments in mice and humans to see exactly why this m

Moderate regular drinking may 'damage sperm'

“Just five alcoholic drinks a week could reduce sperm quality,” The Guardian reports. A study involving Danish military recruits found that even moderate drinking, if done regularly, was associated with a drop in quality. The study involved 1,200 young Danish military recruits (with an average age of 19), and assessed their semen quality, as well as questioning their alcohol intake in the wee

Scientists look into regenerating retinal cells

“Scientists … have discovered stem cells in the human eye which can be transformed into light-sensitive cells and potentially reverse blindness,” The Daily Telegraph reports. While this story is an accurate summary, the research is still at a very early stage, but does show potential. The cells in question are called limbal neurosphere (LNS cells) and are located at the front of the eye. U

Does losing your sense of smell predict death risk?

"Sense of smell 'may predict lifespan'," BBC News reports. New research suggests people unable to smell distinctive scents, such as peppermint or fish, may have an increased risk of death within five years of losing their sense of smell. The study found adults aged 57 or above who could not correctly identify five particular scents – peppermint, fish, orange, rose and leather – were more

Minimum alcohol pricing would 'save 100s of lives'

“‘Hundreds of lives lost' over failure to bring in minimum alcohol pricing,” The Independent reports. The news is based on research that modelled the effect of a minimum alcohol price per unit of around 40-50p. It suggested that this would be 50 times more effective than the current ban on "below-cost sales" (where alcohol is sold at a loss to attract sales of other goods).The statistical

Viagra 'may cause visual disturbance' in some men

"Viagra may permanently damage vision in some men, study finds," reports The Guardian. But the news is, in fact, based on research in mice. This research suggests the medication may not be suitable for men who carry a gene mutation associated with the inherited eye condition retinitis pigmentosa. Researchers found Viagra (the brand name of the drug sildenafil) caused visual disturbance in


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